David Millar, currently third in the general classification in the Tour de France, could become the ambassador for an audacious bid to bring the Grand Départ of the Tour de France to Scotland.
Paul Bush, Chief Operating Officer of Event Scotland, who was invited by Tour organisers ASO to attend Saturday’s Prologue in Rotterdam, considers hosting the start of cyling’s biggest race as “the next jewel in the crown in terms of major events,” according to a report in The Scotsman.
Event Scotland has already succeeded in securing sporting events such as the 2014 Commonwealth Games and Ryder Cup for the country, and Bush, who first discussed the idea with ASO representatives when London hosted the start of the Tour in 2007, is looking to bring the race to Scotland at some point over the next decade.
"We've had positive discussions with ASO," explained Bush, "and now we're looking at putting a proposal to them to bring the Grand Départ to Scotland in the next ten years. It sounds like a long time away, but that's the timeline they work to.”
He continued: “After the Commonwealth Games and the Ryder Cup (both in 2014] it's the one we want. As far as I'm concerned this is the next jewel in the crown in terms of major events to come to Scotland. We've had the MTV Awards, we're going to get the Ryder Cup and Commonwealth Games, and the Tour would hopefully be next. It's such a huge, worldwide event - it's got an Olympic feel to it."
Millar, who wore the green points jersey yesterday after his third-place finish in Saturday’s Prologue, told The Scotsman: "I would love to be an ambassador,” although he added “if we're talking of it happening in the next decade, then I think I may have to keep racing until I'm 43.”
Whether or not the Garmin-Transitions rider, born in Malta to Scottish parents and whose upbringing was split between Scotland, Hong Kong and England, will still be racing in ten years’ time, he’s certainly enthusiastic about the thought of the Tour starting in Scotland.
"It would be wonderful," he said. "Scotland would form such a spectacular backdrop and the only major challenge I can see are the logistics of transporting the entire Tour entourage back to France.”
Although that last point may be a barrier, Dublin successfully hosted the Grand Départ in 1998 in a Tour that subsequently became overshadowed by the Festina scandal.
Millar also says that “there are historical reasons for doing it when you think about the links between France and Scotland,” adding that “the French are very aware of their special relationship with Scotland."
As to when any Grand Départ in Scotland may take place, The Scotsman says that with London thought to be in line for the 2014 Tour de France, there’s little prospect of Scots being able to cheer the race on at home before 2016.
Edinburgh’s world-renowned architecture and dramatic setting would make it a natural candidate for the Prologue, with Stage 1 perhaps taking the riders from the capital to Glasgow, Scotland’s largest city, with plenty of opportunities to pass landmarks such as the Forth Rail Bridge and Stirling Castle as well as spectacular scenery on the way.
Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.